Joey Johnson noticed the waters were high while fishing Toledo Bend Saturday - and the rain throughout the day made it seem like levels were rising by the minute.
Nevertheless, the Vidor, Texas angler and his teammate, Brian Lohr, launched into the waters near the Texas Six Mile boat ramp to compete in a club tournament with members from Beaumont and Port Arthur.
Johnson was casting a Z-Man chatterbait with a watermelon-red Zoom Speed Craw trailer tied to 15-pound Seaguar Red Label fluorocarbon. His line was spooled to a Shimano Curado reel on a medium 7-foot All Star rod.
“It happened after the first five casts,” Johnson said. “Brian was running the trolling motor and he told me he saved a spot for me to cast to.
“It was actually a flooded brush pile in someone’s backyard.”
So Johnson complied and cast over to the structure.
“After two cranks it got heavy,” he said. “I didn’t know if I was hung or not.”
Johnson remembers feeling weight, so he swept the line to the side and it started moving to the top.
“Then she just busted up on top of the water,” he said. “I knew she was trying to throw that bait, so I loosened up the drag a little.”
The angler said the big fish made three runs, one of which was around the boat.
“Brian was eventually able to net her,” he said.
Johnson looked on in awe as the fish appeared to be as big as the net.
“I couldn’t fish for 10 minutes afterward,” he said. “And I must have looked into the livewell 100 times.
“It was our first fish of the morning.”
They went on to fish the rest of the day, and Johnson pampered the big fish by leaving the aerator on manual – which later proved to be a costly mistake.
“We did manage to catch some fine fish later, a 6 ½-pounder and another one weighing 5 pounds,” Johnson said.
Keeping the livewell on resulted in the batteries giving out by noon.
“I really have to give some thanks to two guys fishing the Texas Oilman’s Bass Invitational who helped us, especially in all the rain,” he said. “They wouldn’t leave us until we were able to motor out.”
It was a 3-bass tournament, and the pair weighed-in 22.9 pounds. Then the anglers headed to Fin and Feather Resort to get an official weight on the bass to see if it qualified for entry into the Toledo Bend Lunker Bass Program.
On the certified scales at Fin and Feather, Johnson’s lunker , which was still full of eggs, weighed 11.48 pounds.
The bass, which was eventually tagged and released back into Toledo Bend waters, easily became lunker No. 52 for the 2014-15 Toledo Bend Lunker Bass Program season.
Johnson will receive a complimentary replica of the fish later this spring from the Toledo Bend Lake Association.